What to do when you are not going to make it for your presentation?

Recently I decided to go to a seminar on the psychology behind colors and shapes. However, the speaker didn’t show up for his presentation. What’s worse, the event should have started at 19:00 and he wrote an SMS to the organizers at 19:02 that he was “not going to make it”. That’s it! He was “not going to make it”! At 19:02!

A lot of my students from the Train the Trainer course were there too and it was the perfect moment to discuss what happened and how you should handle situations like this. Let’s first clarify why not showing up for your presentation is a problem:

  1. You lost the time of your audience and nowadays people care about their time more than almost everything.
  2. You lost part if not your whole reputation in the eyes of your audience
  3. You lost the reputation of the conference, event or organization where you were going to speak.

These are all bad and they are bad because chances are you are not going to be invited to this event(organization) anymore + the people who’s time you wasted are going to remember you like that speaker “who didn’t show up for his presentation”… 

Now, what can you as a speaker do when something happens that is stopping you to show up and deliver your presentation(I am not talking about extremes here – bad car incidents, etc.). Here are a few tips that you can use in order to still show everyone professionalism and respect:

  1. Immediately and as early as possible call the host of the event or find a way to notify your audience on what happened. How you are going to do that is completely your choice – just don’t use SMS. At least call. If there is a Facebook event – post there. Flip your phone and record a short video of yourself if you feel comfortable doing that too.
  2. Ask for apology and hope people will understand. They will.
  3. Promise them that you will do everything possible to deliver that information to them – whether you will reschedule, send them some materials and videos, it’s up to you and the specifics of the event.

Bad things happen. Use the above tips and react like a professionalist because if you don’t, that may cost your name, reputation and sometimes even business. As I like to warn my students: “We are all now one tweet away from being exposed!”, so be careful and don’t give a reason to anyone to write bad things about you.

Do you have any comments or any other suggestions on the topic? Add them in the comments!